Violent Conflict and Sexual Behavior in Rwanda. A Possible Pathway of HIV Transmission

Elina Lindskog, Stockholm University

This study focuses on the relationship between violent conflict and a critical event in the transmission of HIV/AIDS, first sexual experience. Rwanda was one of the African countries most affected by AIDS and also experienced civil war leading up to genocide in 1994. It is believed that violent conflict can affect the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS. Conflict disrupts individual lives and communities in ways that may exacerbate the spread of HIV/AIDS but also may inhibit the spread. The study makes use of unique data on violent conflict at regional level in Rwanda that are linked to the sexual histories of individual women. I find that there is an increased risk of first sexual intercourse during years of conflict and in regions experiencing the most intense conflict. Through effects on first sexual intercourse, conflict can increase exposure opportunity and risk for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.

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Presented in Poster Session 6